In the wake of the recently-confirmed shake-up of the technical hierarchy at Williams F1, Rubens Barrichello has admitted that what the team is in desperate need of right now is some 'focus' and 'a leader' – and he has vowed to do his utmost to help in the acquisition of one.
It was announced just under a fortnight ago that Williams technical director Sam Michael and chief aerodynamicist Jon Tomlinson are to depart the scene come the end of the F1 2011 campaign – with, somewhat controversially, former 'Spygate' protagonist Mike Coughlan coming on-board as chief engineer [see separate story – click here
The softly-spoken and well-regarded Michael has been painted as a 'scapegoat' in the whole upheaval even by team insiders, and Barrichello has confessed that he will be sad to see his good friend go, arguing that it is not that the Australian was the wrong man for the job – just that he was overburdened with having to carry out too many tasks all at once, an affliction that he claims is all-too-much in evidence inside the Grove-based outfit [see separate story – click here
It has been six full seasons now since Williams last tasted victory champagne – and Singapore, 2008 marked the Oxfordshire concern's most recent podium. Despite having hinted that he will be prepared to walk away should that situation not begin to turn around, the Brazilian veteran has pledged to pitch in and do everything he can in an effort to stem the gradual but indisputable tide of decline and get his employers back on-track.
“I can recruit new people, looking in other teams,” mused the most experienced driver in F1 history, speaking to Agencia Estado
. “I can do that. I am one of the ten faces who has been in the paddock the longest. I know some people and am talking to them.
“There is still something missing. Sam will give 100 per cent to the end of the year, but we need a leader. At the moment, it's like we have too many but not enough. Many people are trying to say something, but that's not the point in the end. They need to focus on what they are doing.”
Williams ostensibly made a subtle improvement in qualifying form in last weekend's Turkish Grand Prix, but whilst Barrichello and rookie team-mate Pastor Maldonado lined up respectively eleventh and 14th on the grid in Istanbul, a lack of race pace and significant tyre degradation the following day resulted in just 15th and 17th positions at the chequered flag – meaning the team's quest for its first points of F1 2011 continues.
“We struggled quite a bit with straight-line speed, and at various points during the race I couldn't use KERS,” reported Barrichello. “That made it difficult to defend, and I also struggled with it locking-up under braking. We had a better qualifying session, but we need to make some changes to the car to ensure the rear tyres can get to the end of the race in good shape. It is up to us to improve our pace.”
“It was difficult from the beginning of the race,” echoed Maldonado. “It was difficult to maintain a consistent pace in the first two stints because I had a lot of oversteer. We had much better pace towards the end of the race when on 'Primes', but I made a mistake by speeding in the pit-lane, which cost me a drive-through penalty.”